The Electric Commentary

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

The "370 Rule" Strikes Again!

The Football Outsiders have this rule that if a RB gets over 370 carries in a season, then in the next season he will either decline significantly or get hurt. Last year Shaun Alexander had 430 carries counting playoffs, and:

League MVP Shaun Alexander cracked a bone in his sore left foot and will be lost to the Seattle Seahawks for at least a couple of weeks.

Alexander has had soreness and a bone bruise in his left foot since the season opener at Detroit. Coach Mike Holmgren said that Alexander cracked a bone sometime during the team's 42-30 win over the New York Giants. Holmgren said the bruise in Alexander's foot led to the crack and Alexander was walking around team headquarters Sept. 25 on crutches.

I would also like to note that because of the "370 Rule" I drafted Maurice Morris on my fantasy team.

Monday, September 25, 2006

I'm Back

And I have good news:

...we conjecture that binge drinking conveys unobserved social skills that are rewarded by employers.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

It's Good To Be The King

Chicago Mayor Richard Daley successfully vetoed the ridiculous "Big Box" ordinance that would have required certain retailers (Wal-Mart, Target, and many more) to pay a minimum wage of $13.00 an hour. Chicago runs what is basically a feudal system, and while this usually leads to terrible corruption, occasionally some good comes of it. Usually good comes from stopping an idea from becoming law, and not pushing through some idea. Such was the case here.

The people in favor of unskilled worker discrimination have stated that they will attempt to introduce a new law that will require ALL businesses to pay a "living wage" of $13.00 an hour, and the Mayor has stated that he would support a state-wide increase of some sort, so I'm not as happy about this as I could be. But, I might as well enjoy this brief victory.

Why do the bad ideas refuse to die?

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Programming Notes/Travel Bleg

I'm going to Florence, Italy next week to hang out with my vacationing parents, so I'm taking the week off from the blog and Danny's flying solo.

And if anyone has any advice or recommendations for either Florence or Venice, please let me know in the comments section.

Johnny Get Your Gun

Here is the most terrifying news of the day, from Slate:

That nightmare is no longer science fiction. Five days ago, Science published a report on a young woman devastated by a car crash in England. For five months after the accident, tests showed no signs of awareness. Doctors declared her vegetative. Then, scientists put her in a Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging scanner, which tracks blood flow to different parts of the brain. They asked her to imagine playing tennis and walking through her home. The scan lit up with telltale patterns of language, movement, and navigation indistinguishable from the brains of healthy people.

Something was awake inside that woman's skull. Without the scanner, no one but her would have known.

How rarely does this happen? Until a decade ago, FMRI didn't even exist. According to the authors, 60 other vegetative patients have been tested on it and have flunked. The English patient had several factors in her favor: Her injury was traumatic, her brain was largely intact, and she had been vegetative for only a few months. At the other end of the spectrum are people such as Terri Schiavo. Their injuries are caused by oxygen starvation, their brains are liquefied, and they've been vegetative for years. By various estimates, 25,000 to 35,000 Americans have been diagnosed as vegetative. How many of them have received FMRI scans? How many would light up? How many are awake in there?

Read the whole thing.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

An Unsurprising and Unmitigated Disaster

The first half of the Packer/Bear game is not a total loss only because it could have been so much worse.

The Packers look undisciplined. You are surprised when they get through a play without some kind of fundamental mistake, whether it's a fumble, or a lineman stepping on Favre, or a kicker missing a kick as badly as I have ever seen.

On the other side, Rex Grossman looks sharp, he's hitting all of his WRs in stride, and Mushin Muhammad is using his body to get open at will on the normally great Al Harris. They should have at least 2 more TDs. They look like a professional team. The Packers look like they just decided to show up and play a game. Maybe they'll turn it around in the second half, but I doubt it.

I need a beer.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Steelers sign Davenport

MDS takes a hard look inside the hamper.

Friday, September 08, 2006

This weekend...

Showing the Sports Guy what a Pilgrimage is all about. A few weeks ago, I commented on Bill Simmons' article about his trip to Wisconsin for a Brewer game and a Packer pre-season game. Well, It appears that I'm about to have a similar weekend. Tomorrow I'm going to the Brewer game with three old college friends and Sunday I'll be heading up to Lambeau to see the Packers play the Bears for the season opener. Joining me will be J, a law school friend and Detroit native that recently moved to Green Bay.

Why You Should Pick Tampa Bay To Win The Super Bowl

Every year at this time the prognosticators make their predictions for the NFL season. Some stay with the tried and true, like the New England Patriots (or Carolina Panthers). Some go with the hot pick, this year the Miami Dolphins (at least until last night). And then you get your crazies who pick random bad teams to come out of nowhere, blowing all of their credibility.

If you really want to look smart this year, you should go with the Bucs. Here's what we know about the Bucs. They still have a pretty good defense, they have a great coach in Jon Gruden, their young QB, Chris Simms, has another year of experience under his belt, and actually looked pretty good last year, and they have a good young RB in Cadillac Williams. The all-important offensive line is good, if not spectacular.

No one is mentioning this team as a contender despite the fact that they won their division last year (matching Carolina's 11-5 mark, but winning the tie-breaker), and despite the fact that they managed this feat with turmoil at the QB spot, and oft-injured Cadillac Williams, and a young receiver (Michael Clayton) who came into camp overweight and who regressed more than anyone I've ever seen over the course of an offseason. If Simms continues to improve, if Williams stays healthy, and if Clayton gives you anything at all, there is no reason that this team cannot improve on their 11-5 mark.

Moreover, the Bucs have all of the characteristics of a Super Bowl contender. Defense, after all, does win championships. They're like the Bears, but with an offense. Much of this can be said about the Panthers as well, but they are one Steve Smith injury away from losing most of their offense.

The NFC is a crapshoot, especially in the South and East, and given the well-balanced nature of the conference it is shocking that people are ignoring this team, but I'm happy to take advantage of the hype being lavished on everyone else, and I'll be happy to say "I told you so" in January.

Note: I picked Cinci below, but I'm officially changing my prediction to Tampa, so if I claim to have picked Cinci later in the season, call me a liar. My real pick, is Tampa.

Facebook and Myspace

If you were a college student any time after 2004, you probably had a profile on Facebook. If you are a young lady in some stage of undress that "just moved to the area" and "has a webcam" you probably have a profile on Myspace. The two sites are pretty much the same. But Facebook has enjoyed the advantage of requiring a university email address, which largely keeps out two groups of people: spammers and losers. Every day I get requests from people to add them as my "friend." Usually these people are young ladies in various stages of undress with "about me" sections that say stuff like this:

"OMG! u shud check out my WEB CAM? check out my pix 2--i got a little krazy with my new digital cam and their SEXXXY. I'd LUV to here you're COMMENTS!!! cRaZy! WTF! ttyl!"

What the hell is that? So these are obviously spam bots, but you know what? They are copying this ridiculous writing style from real, live losers! If you start reading random profiles you'll see people commenting on eachother's profiles saying shit like:

"OMG! thankx for the ADD! u r sooo HOTT!"

Who are these people? Why are people adding "friends" that they don't even know? Where do these relationships go after the "add"? And why do they write like that?

Now I realize that the whole concept of Facebook/Myspace is pretty weird, but I think they're becoming normal really fast. I think most people see the distinction the same way I do. Until recently facebook was better. What made it better was its limits. It was limited to people in college and you were limited in who you could see. The dichotomy, to me, worked out like this: if Facebook was an exclusive party in an upscale club, or even a cool college bar, Myspace is a three cases of Coors light and a rusty pickup truck in a field.

As these sites evolved, they added more and more features. The newest one on Facebook is the "News Feed" which constantly provides you with updates anytime your friends do anything. "X has joined the group, 'The Red Gym is Bowser's Castle'* or "Y has posted new pictures" or "A has commented on B's wall" or "C is 'getting a hooker tonight'** or whatever. One of the most often repeated News Feed items I've seen since its onset has been, "A,B, C, D, E, F and G have joined the group 'Students against Facebook News Feed'" That group has 742,130 members right now. Heh. I guess people want to put a little effort into their virtual stalking.

On a semi-related note, this enterprising young man should be a hero to us all. For those of you who aren't on facebook and can't view the link, he started a Facebook group called "If this group reaches 100,000 my girlfriend will have a threesome." His girlfriend agreed that if he could get 100,000 people to join a Facebook group by December 31, she would let another girl join them for an evening. He started the group on September 4, 2006. As of 10:32 am today, there are 69,255 members in the group and counting.

*The Red Gym is a building in Madison and it does look like Bowser's Castle.

**Actually on my "News Feed" right now. Very classy C.

Fun Friday, Part 3

This ranks as one of my favorite Green Bay Packer plays of all time. It was a rainy, windy, cold Monday Night which caused the Minnesota kicker (I believe Gary Anderson) to miss a chippy for the win, forcing overtime. It took about two weeks for my dad and I to warm up after this game, but it was worth it to see this:

Fun Friday, Part 2

How about some Ping Pong?

(Hat tip, Ace)

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Lost and found

I’m in the middle of a Lost marathon right now. I’m trying to watch all of season two on DVD before season three begins on October 4 (I think). I watched four episodes last night. I think I watched the first season over the course of a few days. When you’re watching a show on DVD and that show ends almost every episode with some sort of cliffhanger, it’s pretty hard not to watch just one more. I try to avoid discussion and internet speculation about Lost like the plague because the best part of the show is trying to figure things out and be surprised by all the new twists. So far, I’m sticking with my theory from last season. I’ve heard people mention the “they died and are in purgatory” theory and I think that’s kinda lame. I think that the answers will be very similar to the answers in The Mysterious Island. Has anyone else had this theory? I’m sure people have but I’ve never heard it suggested, and certainly not to the degree people suggest other theories. But, like I said, I try to avoid those kinds of discussions. Especially since I’m a season behind.

While at Target buying season 2, I picked up a Rubik’s Cube in the checkout line. Impulse purchase. While I won’t use the internet to figure out Lost, I have no problem using it to figure out the Rubik’s Cube. After about 20 minutes found the solution for it for the very first time using the “layers” method. While a watched Lost I got it a few more times. When last I tried it, in like 1992, I though it was impossible. Now it’s getting pretty easy. What did people do before the internet?

Reason to amend the constitution of the day: "American flags stolen by squirrels from graves make up the bulk of a nest at an Eau Claire cemetery." If we allow these squirrels to desecrate the flag, the terrorists will have won.

Also in the overlooked news, The Cato Institute released its Economic Freedom of the World: 2006 Annual Report today.

"This year's report notes that economic freedom remains on the rise. The average economic freedom score rose from 5.1 (out of 10) in 1980 to 6.5 in the most recent year for which data are available. Of the 102 nations with scores in 1980 and in the most recent index, 98 recorded improvements in their economic freedom score, four saw a decline. In this year's index, Hong Kong retains the highest rating for economic freedom, 8.7 out of 10, followed by Singapore at 8.5. New Zealand, Switzerland, and the United States tied for third with ratings of 8.2. Ireland and the United Kingdom are tied for 6th at 8.1. Canada ranked 8th with a rating of 8.0. Iceland and Luxembourg are tied for 9th at 7.9."

Not bad.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

NFL Predictions

1. In a blistering response to the NFL's ban on props for use in touchdown celebrations, Terrell Owens enlists the Cirque de Soleil to whimsically assume the form of the implements and wild animals necessary to complete his latest vision, the avante garde "Grey Afternoon in the Endless Zone of the Loneliness." The NFL is so confused that they accidentally fine New Orleans WR Joe Horn.

2. Ben Roethlisberger, fresh off of his recovery from a motorcycle accident and an appendectomy is struck by lightening while golfing in a PGA pro-am event, injured in a freak banana peel accident, and is finally killed when Baltimore ML Ray Lewis sends a poisonous spire directly into his heart.

(What? Too soon?)

3.Brett Favre decides to retire midseason, not because the Packers are terrible, but to replace Joe Theisman in the booth for Monday Night Football. Favre is heard to say:

I'm so sick of Joe hanging around before the game just so he can tell those stupid stories. "I met with Brett last night, and he told me blah, blah, blah." I can't stand it anymore. I may lose my consecutive game streak, and the guys may be disappointed, but I can't stand to hear one more Redskin-related anecdote that has nothing to do with the goings on. And plus that Tirico, he's an OK guy. I could see workin' with him.

4. Former Viking KR Koren Robinson and former Ohio State standout Maurice Clarrett tragically perish when they don bullet-proof vests, down a bottle of Grey Goose, and make a mad dash from the cops ending in a tragic, Thelma and Louise-style crash off of a high pier into lake Minnetonka.

5. Drew Brees rips off a mask to reveal that he is actually Chad Pennington.

6. Chad Pennington rips off a mask to reveal that he is actually Drew Brees.

7. The Dallas Cowboys sign free agent QB J.T. O'Sullivan as their third string QB. He and backup QB Tony Romo immediately quit the team in order to start a chain of highly successful theme restaurants.

8. Bonus College Prediction: Texas QB Colt McCoy and Northwestern QB Mike Kafka team up in the offseason to run a QB camp with fellow NCAA starter, The University of Detroit's Killer McGangmember.

(Optional punch lines: Paris's Stinky Surrendere', Georgetown's Jack Payola, San Francisco's...actually, let's skip that one. You get the idea.)

9. Jake Plummer's forest compound is finally raided by the BATF.

10. Matt Millen decides to help out the Lions by signing himself to a contract after watching Major League 2 for the 27th time. He is immediately given a ten year extension.

11. Peyton Manning reveals that his random arm flailings are not signals at all, but merely a tribute to the cancelled show Arrested Development.

12. While running his fingers through his long, flowing locks, Matt Hasselbeck is shocked to learn that he has been suspended for four games after violating the league's substance abuse policy.

13. The President's Council on Bioethics issues a stern condemnation of Denver coach Mike Shanahan after learning that his opening day starter at RB will be Mitem Bell.

14. Former Eagle WR Todd Pinkston goes missing during a family vacation to popular Iowa attraction, The Worlds Biggest Field of Haystacks.

15. Ahman Green is downgraded from Batman to Aquaman. And Aquaman sucks.

Real Predictions:


Division winners: Seattle, Chicago, MotownPhilly, Tampa Bay

Wild Cards: Minnesota, Washington

Championship: Tampa Bay over Chicago


Division Winners: Miami (yes, I'm a sucker), Cinci, Jacksonville, Denver

Wild Cards: San Diego, Pitt

Championship: Cinci over Pitt

Super Bowl: Tampa Bay v. Cinci

Winner: Cinci

Can I pet your stingray?

I heard on the radio this morning that Discovery World at Pier Wisconsin is having its grand opening this weekend. Discovery World will feature all sorts of interactive exhibits, aquariums, banquet halls and a harbor for the tall ship that sales around Lake Michigan near Milwaukee durring the summers. I used to love this kind of stuff when I was a kid and I still do. Anything that promotes science is great in my book. The new building is very cool too and makes a nice addition to the lakefront. In light of recent events, I'm wondering how popular the "touch tanks" in the aquarium will be? According to the website, kids can interact with and touch "freshwater and salt water species including Lake Sturgeon from freshwater lakes and salt water rays and sharks."

Three-sentence Movie Review: I watched Oldboy, a 2003 South Korean film directed by Park Chan-wook and starring Choi Min-sik, and winner of the Grand Prix at the 2004 Cannes Film Festival (Quentin Tarrantino made a big effort to persuade the members of the jury to award it the top prize, the Palme d’Or, but they gave that to some movie about a fat guy and a terrorist attack or something). The plot is similar to The Count of Monte Cristo, but with more incest. The fight scenes look like side-scrolling video games from the 80s.

Speaking of movies, check out this trailer for Jesus Camp:

I'm a little worried about the future of the planet. (hat tip JIJAWM)

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Overheard At An Archaeology/Anthropology Party

I get to go to these things once in a while with my wife. Yesterday I heard this:

Being in Tehran is at least safer than being in the Golan Heights. It's (Tehran) like a modern city where everything fun has been outlawed. One of the worst parts is the movies. The Mullahs outlaw basically everything. You get a few classics, but if you want to see anything new you're going to be out of luck. Except for Michael Moore. They love Michael Moore.

School's out for ever

It feels very very strange that labor day has passed and I'm not going back to school today or anytime soon. After 8 years of "higher" education the cycle finally ends. I think it finally hit me this weekend that I'm actually a "real person" instead of a student. Yikes. On the bright side, I get to drink call mixers and eat steak more often, right? That's what the "real world" is all about, right? Right?

So anyway, I woke up this morning-after-labor-day, put un a crisp clean white shirt, and resolved to post on this here blog a little more regularly. I have no idea why I'm connecting that with a "real world" activity. In fact, that makes no sense at all. Whatever. This weekend was pretty real-person oriented actually. On Friday I went to one of a long string of dismal Brewer games. We didn't have time for tailgating so we did a little pre-gaming at Long Wong's Chinese American Sports Bar for a few pitchers and a few $.25 Shanghai Wings. We hopped the shuttle for the game at around the third inning. The Brewers lost. They looked terrible. The season is over. But, as I always say, here in Wisconsin, we love our Brewers (or Packers) like we love our children--not because they are good, but because they are ours. After that we met some friends at Bar Louie, which just opened where Brew City BBQ used to be. I was glad this place opened up since Brew City had such a good location and a nice beer garden, it would have been a shame to leave it vacant when Brew City moved across the friggen street (what's the point of that?) . Anyway, Bar Louie, slapped on a coat of paint and made some other improvements to the old place and is now a (small) step classier than your typical Water St. Bar. The beer garden is nice with he addition of a large fire pit, more modern furniture and, um, a bed. I'm not really sure why that's there. Anyway, good times were had by all.

On Saturday I went to a "cocktail" party in the burbs at a co-worker's nice new house. It was a good time even though I didn't know too many people there. But being a "real person" party, lots of the people left a little early to go take the sitter home and stuff like that. I left a little early too and met some other friends at Mo's Irish Pub to see a singer/songwriter by the name of Mark Croft. He's a local guy (from Madison actually) and he put on a pretty good show. My friends always joke with me that my range of musical taste is limited to white guys with guitars. This is a huge exaggeration since I love Hootie and the Blowfish, but there is a grain of truth to it. Anyway, Mark is indeed a white guy with a guitar and he put on a great show. He played lots of covers but his original stuff was really good. I even bought his CD. You gotta support local music, right?

The news item of the day, which everyone already knows, is that the Crocodile Hunter, Steve Irwin, died in just about the least ironic way he possibly could have short of being eaten by an actually croc. I think we all watched his show in part because of Steve's wreckless disregard for his own safety at the hands of the animal kingdom. But I think we all felt that Steve would meet his demise in a car accident or in a hospital bed of natural causes 40 years from now, or at least he'd OD on meth. Does that make it ironic that Steve's death wasn't ironic like we all suspected it would be? Is Alanis Morissette's song "Ironic" ironic because nothing in it is ironic and it's called "Ironic"?*

The Wisconsin News item of the day, at least if you read the right-wing Wisconsin political blogs (and who doesn't? The unintentional comedy is often off the charts!) is that Miller Brewing Company allegedly made a donation to a pro-immigration group for a rally. So the right-wingers are proposing a ban. One brave soul in the comments pledged to drink three times as much Miller Beer until one of the other comments gave up on his ban, similar to the "adopt a vegetarian" program. As a pro-immigration beer-drinker, I'd love to support this cause. But, as I noted above, I'm a real person now, so my intake of watered-down domestic mega-brew should be going down, not up.

In other (fake) Wisconsin news, this Onion headline is awesome:

Brett Favre Fitted For New Suit Before Sold-Out Lambeau Field Crowd


Sunday, September 03, 2006

It's Danny v. Rhoads

in this month's Intensity Newsletter. The question: Should steroids be legalized for use in athletic events? I think that Danny gets the best of this argument, as Rhoads' argument rests at least partially on the existence of time travel.

It's all there in September's TIN.

Now That's Economics

The Undercover Economist goes way undercover, in Slate:

National statistics on teen fellatio have only recently been collected, but the trend seems to be real. Johns Hopkins University Professor Jonathan Zenilman, an expert in sexually transmitted infections (and father of former Slate intern Avi Zenilman), reports that both the adults and the teenagers who come to his clinic are engaging in much more oral sex than in 1990. For men and boys as recipients it's up from about half to 75 to 80 percent; for women and girls, it's risen from about 25 percent to 75 to 80 percent.

In some quarters, that might be regarded as progress...

Friday, September 01, 2006

Fun Friday

Have a nice Labor Dabor. Weekend.

Why is there a Fatwah on Salman Rushdie?

Here's an excerpt from The Satanic Verses:

The faithful lived by lawlessness, but in those years Mahound - or should one say the Archangel Gibreel? - should one say Al-Lah? - became obsessed by law. Amid the palm-trees of the oasis Gibreel appeared to the Prophet and found himself spouting rules, rules, rules, until the faithful could scarcely bear the prospect of any more revelation, Salman said, rules about every damn thing, if a man farts let him turn his face to the wind, a rule about which hand to use for the purpose of cleaning one's behind. It was as if no aspect of human existence was to be left unregulated, free. The revelation - the recitation - told the faithful how much to eat, how deeply they should sleep, and which sexual positions had received divine sanction, so that they learned that sodomy and the missionary position were approved of by the archangel, whereas forbidden postures included all those in which the female was on top. Gibreel further listed the permitted and forbidden subjects of conversation and earmarked the parts of the body which could not be scratched no matter how unbearably they might itch...

so how excessively convenient it was that he should have come up with such a very businesslike archangel, who handed down the management decisions of this highly corporate, if non-corporeal, God.

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